amazing multiculturalism + creative community

Claudia Salguero, photographed in her South Ottawa studio.

A few weeks ago, as we were asking our followers on social media about what they loved about Ottawa, we received a few tweets from Claudia Salguero, who very enthusiastically answered, “I love your project. Ottawa needs to be told how vibrant it is! I loveOttawa ‘cause its doors are open wide if you work hard and you believe in what you do.”

Soon after, Claudia invited us to her home studio and shared her love of music, art and community. Energetic, dynamic and versatile, she is, not only a very talented digital and visual artist, but also a Latin Jazz/bolero singer and a community art facilitator who works with organizations like Operation Come Home, Ottawa Housing Corporation and OCISO .

On Saturday, May 28th, Claudia and a group of very talented musicians will perform a one night Latin Jazz concert, “Cantares,” now in its sixth year, at the National Arts Centre. The musicians are from nine different countries and cover a wide range of styles and instruments. We were honoured to attend one of their rehearsals (in Claudia’s studio basement) and were immediately enamoured by the Latin rhythms and Claudia’s lovely voice. Part of the proceeds from the concert will go to a community centre in Bogotá, Colombia.

Thank you, Claudia, for sharing your art and music, as well your passionate sentiments about our city.

© dwayne brown studio  – the  loveOttawa  project

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

You are a vibrant, creative, multi-talented artist. What started first? The art, the music or the community involvement?

“The music and the art have always been a part of my life. I remember being a little girl and making things with my hands, always curious about materials, always trying to understand how things were made, always putting colours wherever I could. There is something I regret, though. I was probably 8 when I decided to paint the shell of a little turtle I had in our fish tank. She died… :(

Singing and music are also a part of who I am and definitely helped me to develop self-confidence (you have no idea how introverted I was!) and, at the same time, the certainty of knowing there is always lots to learn. I started singing at school when I was probably 10 or 11.  The community work started here in Ottawa a few years ago and has been a gift for me in many ways. I discovered the joy of sharing what I know and the importance of art as a tool for a healthier world.”

How long have you lived in Ottawa and how did leaving your country impact your work?

“I moved to Ottawa in 2001 and this change in my life has enriched my work. I now have a wider view of the world, a deeper knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, many friends from all over the world and also a better understanding of Latin American culture. As Latin Americans we share many things including our language, but we are still different. If we talk about tradition, food or music, the variety is immense. I have seen and experienced that in Ottawa and I feel now more proud and more in love with Latin American culture. You can see that in my concerts. On the other hand, I have been exposed to artists from the five continents who work with many different techniques. This has been an inspiration and a source of artistic knowledge. My Photo-Fine-Art “Downtown Aluminum Series” is about cities of the world and the energy flowing in their streets.”

We are looking forward to attending “Cantares” later this month. Such a wonderful mixture of talented musicians coming together to play Latin Jazz promises to be a real treat. What would you like to tell Ottawa about the concert and what can we expect?

“CANTARES will be a musically rich, fun, chic, romantic and also educational concert. This year’s repertoire includes songs from many countries of Latin America as well as some classic Jazz tunes from North America with our Latin flavour.  Our audience is over fifty percent anglophone and francophone which, for me, is a sign that the concert is enjoyed by everyone in Ottawa, not just the Latin community.  I think people appreciate and take pride that a production of this level is Ottawa-based and they want to be part of it and support it. This is my sixth year at the National Arts Centre and for the audience it has become a night they look forward to. Our concerts sell out and we hope to achieve the same again this year.

I sing many songs in Spanish but I’ll tell my audience about the stories in the songs, the rhythms and the instruments of different countries we use on stage. It will be like traveling the continent. The musicians accompanying me are extremely talented and prolific but most of all beautiful human beings. I feel so fortunate to have worked with them over the years. They are from all over: Brazil, Mexico, Canada, USA, Africa, Great Britain, Peru and Chile. Of course there is me, from Colombia! We are from nine different countries in total and we all bring something from our background to the stage.

As in previous years, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a foundation in Colombia. This year it will go to “Casa Taller Las Moyas” in Bogotá. Thank you Ottawa, for your permanent support!”

Finally, what do you most love about Ottawa? Are there any places you love to go to or activities you enjoy doing?

“Besides the amazing multiculturalism, the way in which the community welcomes new residents, I love how easy it is to become part of this community and participate in it.  In terms of places, I love with all my heart the Rideau Canal and The Arboretum. These are the places I escape to. Biking and skating the canal whenever I can is something I just need to do. I also love Winterlude. I have been learning ice and snow sculpture since 2011 and Winterlude is the best place and time to do it. This is something I can’t do in Colombia!”

Thanks Claudia for sharing your creative and generous spirit. We so look forward your upcoming concert! For more information about Claudia and her many creative projects, please take a peek at her site: You can also follow her on Twitter at: @closalguero and on Instagram at: @claudia_salguero